Editorial: Another chapter for dysfunctional state government

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Get back to work and show me the money.

We wish it were that simple.

But apparently Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is optimistic that members of the General Assembly will see the light and approve the revenue-generating ideas he thinks will balance the state budget.

We don’t see how he can be hopeful given that many of the ideas — leasing the lottery, expanding gambling, etc. — have received little support in the House.

“They didn’t seem to have much support in May, and I don’t know that much has changed,” Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown told The Associated Press.

It will be more difficult to pass those measures if the House returns to work Wednesday: It would take a three-fifths vote to pass anything.

The Senate is onboard with the governor and passed what the governor wants before its members left Springfield at the end of May.

The House, led by Speaker Mike Madigan, was responsible (“irresponsible,” the governor says) for sending Blagojevich a budget that had a $2 billion deficit. The message to the governor was “hey, you fix it, pal.”

The governor responded by threatening to make $1.5 billion in cuts. He’s clearly uncomfortable making those cuts because he’s already backed off reducing funds for rape-prevention centers, 4-H clubs and Amtrak.

What will get cut in their place if the House doesn’t do the governor’s bidding? Your guess is as good as ours.

There is a temptation to dismiss the Madigan-Blagojevich feud as petty politics, but that would be underestimating the damage that has and could be done.

A victim of the feud is a long-awaited capital construction program. There hasn’t been a capital plan since 1999 and there is more than $9 billion of federal money waiting to be matched for Illinois projects.

Madigan appears to have the upper hand. Nothing can happen, even if representatives return to Springfield, unless he says so.

An unintended consequence of a special session, for the governor, could be a call for impeachment.

Rep. Jack Franks of Woodstock issued a news release that said he would ask Madigan to create a committee to investigate whether there is enough evidence to proceed with articles of impeachment against the governor.

Did we mention all the key players are Democrats? There’s no party unity in Illinois. Republicans actually seem more willing to work with the governor than members of his own party.

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, said Republicans would be happy to cooperate in a special session.

The state fiscal year began July 1 without a budget. It will be a couple of weeks before state workers start missing paychecks and health-care providers get even further behind in reimbursements.

It’s time for someone not only to get back to work, but to lead Illinois out of this mess. Any volunteers?

Rockford Register Star